« AnteriorContinuar »
ness the disorder and damage which arises to china, and to dress-gowns, in consequence of its untimely frolics. Jeanie's last chance hit, however, obliterated the ill impression which had arisen from the first; for her majesty had not so far lost the feelings of a wife in those of a queen, but that she could enjoy a jest at the expense of her good Suffolk. She turned towards the Duke of Argyle with a smile, which marked that she enjoyed the triumph, and observed, “ The Scotch are a rigidly moral people.” Then, applying herself to Jeanie, she asked how she travelled up from Scotland.
“Upon my foot mostly, madam,” was the reply.
“What! and all that immense way upon foot? How far can you walk in a day?”.
“Five-and-twenty miles and a bittock.”
“And a what?” said the queen, looking towards the Duke of Argyle.
“ And about five miles more,” replied the duke.
“I thought I was a good walker,” said the queen, “but this shames me sadly.”
“May your leddyship never hae sae weary a heart that ye canna be sensible of the weariness of the limbs,” said Jeanie.
“ That came better off,” thought the duke ; “it's the first thing she has said to the purpose.”
“And I didna just a'thegither walk the hail way neither, for I had whiles the cast of a cart; and I had the cast of a horse from Ferrybridge, and divers others easements,” said Jeanie, cutting short the story, for she observed the duke made the sign he had fixed upon.
“With all these accommodations,” answered the queen, “ you must have had a very fatiguing journey, and I fear, to little purpose; since, if the king were to pardon your sister, in all probability it would do her little good; for I suppose your people of Edinburgh would hang her out of spite.”
“She will sink herself now outright," thought the duke. But he was wrong: the shoals on which Jeanie
had touched in this delicate conversation, lay under ground, and were unknown to her; this rock was above water, and she avoided it.
“ She was confident,” she said, “ that baith town and country wad rejoice to see his majesty taking compassion on a poor unfriended creature.'
“ His majesty has not found it so in a late instance,” said the queen; “but, I suppose, my lord duke would advise him to be guided by the votes of the rabble themselves, who should be hanged, and who spared.”
“No, madam,” said the duke; “but I would advise his majesty to be guided by his own feelings, and those of his royal consort; and then, I am sure, punishment will only attach itself to guilt; and even then, with cautious reluctance.
“Well, my lord,” said her majesty, “all these fine speeches do not convince me of the propriety of so soon showing favour to your-I suppose I must not say rebellious ? but, at least, your very disaffected and intractable metropolis. Why, the whole nation is in a league to screen the savage and abominable murtherers of that unhappy man; otherwise, how is it possible but that, of so many perpetrators, and engaged in so public an action, for such a length of time, one at least must have been recognized. Even this wench, for aught I can tell, may be a depositary of the secret. Hark you, young woman, had you any friends engaged in the Porteus mob?”
“ No, madam,” answered Jeanie ; happy that the question was so formed, that she could, with a good conscience, answer it in the negative.
“But, I suppose,” continued the queen, “if you were possessed of such a secret, you would hold it matter of conscience to keep it to yourself?”
“ I would pray to be directed and guided in what was the line of duty, madam," answered Jeanie.
“Yes, and take that which suited your own inclinations,” replied her majesty.
“ If it like you, madam,” said Jeanie, “I would hae gane to the end of the earth to save the life of John Porteus, or any other unhappy man in his condition ; but I might lawfully doubt how far I am called upon to be the avenger of his blood, though it may become the civil magistrate to do so. He is dead, and gane to his place; and they that have slain him must answer for their ain act. But my sister-my puir sister Effie still lives, though her day and hours are numbered; she still lives, and a word of the king's mouth might restore her to a broken-hearted auld man, that never in his daily and nightly exercise, forgot to pray that his majesty might be blessed with a long and prosperous reign; and that his throne, and the throne of his posterity might be established in righteousness. O, madam, if ever ye kenned what it was to sorrow for and with a sinning and suffering creature, whose mind is sae tossed that she can be neither ca'd fit to live or die, have some compassion on our misery !-Save an honest house from dishonour, and an unhappy girl, not eighteen years of age, from an early and dreadful death! Alas! it is not when we sleep soft and wake merrily ourselves, that we think on other people's sufferings. Our hearts are waxed light within us then, and we are for righting our ain wrongs, and fighting our ain battles. But when the hour of trouble comes to the mind, or to the body and seldom may it visit your leddyship ;-and when the hour of death comes, that comes to high and low-long and late may it be yours ;-O, my leddy, then it isna what we hae dune for oursels, but what we hae dune for others, that we think on maist pleasantly. And the thoughts that ye hae intervened to spare the puir thing's life, will be sweeter in that hour, come when it may, than if a word of your mouth could hang the hail Porteus mob at the tail of ae tow.” Tear followed tear down Jeanie's cheeks, as, her features glowing and quivering with emotion, she pleaded her sister's cause with a pathos which was at once simple and solemn.
“This is eloquence,” said her majesty to the Duke of Argyle. “Young woman,” she continued, addressing herself to Jeanie, “I cannot grant a pardon to your sister—but you shall not want my warm intercession with his majesty. Take this housewife case,” she continued, putting a small embroidered needlecase into Jeanie's hands; “ do not open it now, but at your leisure; you will find something in it which will remind you, you have had an interview with Queen Caroline.”
Jeanie, having her suspicions thus confirmed, dropped on her knees, and would have expanded herself in gratitude ; but the duke, who was upon thorns lest she should say more or less than just enough, touched his chin once more.
“ Our business is, I think, ended for the present, my lord duke,” said the queen, “and I trust, to your satisfaction. Hereafter I hope to see your grace more frequently, both at Richmond and St. James'.—Come, lady Suffolk, we must wish his grace good morning.”
They exchanged their parting reverences, and the duke, as soon as the ladies had turned their backs, assisted Jeanie to rise from the ground, and conducted her back through the avenue, which she trod with the feeling of one who walks in her sleep.—Sir Walter Scott.
LESSON IX. DROLLERY; OR, RALPH ROGERS. Ralph Rogers was an old man when I was boy ; and though time had legibly written threescore years and ten on his brow, and only a few scattered grey hairs straggled down on each side of his head, yet was he as merry in his heart, and as full of laughter, as the youngest boy amongst us. So much accustomed was he to indulge in mirth, that his face had settled into an appearance of pleasantry ; his small sparkling eye seemed on the watch for something comical, and his
whole appearance was that of a man on the eve of a fit of laughter. Such was Ralph Rogers, who for many a year had established his reputation as a jester, and pursued in his age, not only the liveliness, but the thoughtless fooleries of his youth. · However pleasant mirth may be to the human heart, such is the uncertainty of life, and such the cares and afflictions to which all, especially the aged, are exposed, that we cannot but be convinced of the justice of the acclamation
"How ill grey hairs become a jester!" If there be a time to laugh, there is also a time to weep; and it is a poor occupation for a man, with the immediate prospect of eternity before him, to spend his precious moments in laughter and folly.
Ralph Rogers had one of the best seats and the snuggest corner at every merry-making. His droll remarks, his comical tales, and above all, his laughing song, made him a welcome guest among the most lighthearted of his neighbours.
One winter's night old Ralph was seated in the armchair in the chimney corner, at the house of Burton, the carpenter, when a few friends had assembled to feast on the occasion of his birth-day. The table had been cleared, the party had gathered round the fire, and a large brown jug, in the shape of a laughing old man, with a pipe in one hand and a glass in the other, was filled to the very brim with the carpenter's best ale. The black kitten was playing with a ball of white worsted under the table, the clock was ticking at the far corner of the room, and a print of the battle of the Boyne hung against the wall; but neither the print, the clock, nor the kitten were regarded, for every ear and every eye were directed towards Ralph Rogers, who was just about to begin his laughing song.
Old Ralph had repeated this song, in the course of his life, twenty times over to the same party, with undi- .